By Jeremy McDonald
EUGENE, Ore.– There was a feeling that all roads led through Ridgeview for the 5A State Championship in 2019.
For Dallas, who drew the challenge of facing the Ravens in the State Title Game, enjoyed a road well-traveled to get this point having defeated Hood River Valley and Hillsboro to clinch their trip to Jane Sanders Stadium Saturday afternoon.
It spoke volumes of the program that Brandi Jackson has built the last four years, two resulting in State Title Appearances in three years. And though they finished second in the Mid-Willamette Conference and bringing home two State Runner-Up trophies following their 5-1 defeat to Ridgeview on this State Title Trip, the foundation by this Senior Class has been laid down.
“I think it’s great, I think the coaching staff has done a really good job. Brandi coming in my freshman year and continued moving the program,” said Kaelynn Simmons of the coaching staff. “I have strong faith in all of our underclassmen coming up into our positions and getting it done the next few seasons.”
Simmons pitched in the Dragons State Championship appearance in 2017 against Marist as now the Senior prepares for her college career at Western Washington University next Spring.
With Simmons in the circle, she pounded the zone like she did through the years and gave her defense opportunities to step up like they did against the Eagles and the Spartans to give them a chance with the game tied at 0 after two innings.
“It was hard going into it because we knew we were the underdogs as they saw it. We just tried our hardest to play at our level and pace and try to catch everything they threw at us,” said Morgan Dippel.
Dippel, a sophomore, made some clutch plays out in Left Field that helped prevent hits to materialized. A matter of fact, the Dragon outfield and infield backed Simmons throughout the game.
But a few timely hits when the Ravens needed them, in the third with four hits resulting in three runs and in the fourth with a two-run homerun, gave Ridgeview a 5-0 lead entering the fifth inning.
Maddie Doig broke the shutout in the top half of the fifth inning, driving in Dippel who came in as a courtesy runner at second, in hopes for a late-game rally down 5-1.
The defense continued, but the Dallas bats couldn’t time out Allicitie Frost enough to string together their five hits into runs over the last two innings. Frost struck out 15 Dragon batters in the win for Ridgeview.
And though they graduate four, they’re in important spots. Replacing Simmons at pitcher, Adrian Lee at Catcher, Emma Classen and Jenessa Parnell in the outfield will be no easy task for sure; but they know as returners what needs to be done as they bring home their second second-place trophy in three years.
“Obviously with the seniors leaving, they’re going to be missed and they’ll be big holes, but with the underclassmen coming in we’re still going to be able to show them the ropes,” starts Dippel. “With everyone that’s still staying, we’re going to be able to hit the ground running.”
“I’m so proud, I’m so proud of my team. I’m really proud in the offense and the defense that we put together,” said Simmons, who struck out five in the game. “We really worked hard in practice. It sucks it didn’t go our way but I’m really proud of how the season went.”
Doig had a team-high two hits and the RBI in the loss, Zoe Whitlow, Kacey Jordan and Parnell all recorded hits for Dallas.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald